ADELAIDE — On October 9 the federal Industrial Relations Commission approved sole coverage by a company union at CSR's new sugar distribution plant here. The organisation is the CSR Officers' Association, which is not affiliated to the ACTU and operates out of offices provided rent-free by CSR. The National Union of Workers and the ACTU opposed the application, arguing that granting sole coverage to the association would create a precedent for the spread of company unions.
MELBOURNE — The Victorian Secondary Teachers Association and the Federated Teachers Union of Victoria have escalated their campaigns against the Victorian Ministry of Education and Training's refusal to honour industrial agreements because of budget cuts. On October 11, the ministry failed to advise schools of staffing levels, prompting the VSTA to ban all state Labor MPs from entering schools. VSTA Council will soon consider further bans on the new Victorian Certificate of Education. Meanwhile the FTUV, which covers teachers in primary and technical schools, is continuing a program of rolling half-day strikes and 90-minute stop-works and bans on taking classes of absent teachers. Education minister Barry Pullen and finance minister Tony Sheehan insist the government will not back down on the budget cuts to education.
- About 250 parents and child-care workers met on October 10 to oppose proposed changes to federally subsidised child-care. The federal government wants to cut subsidies for non-work-related child-care. The meeting was addressed by a representative of the Victorian Department of Housing, Health and Community Services, Trish Caswell of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, Anne Black from the ACTU, Sue Jackson from Victorian Council of Social Services and Helen Dawson, a parent. The meeting decided to set up a campaign committee to organise a rally and a child-care workers' boycott on training sessions. For information on the campaign contact Cheryl Cameron (03) 418 0658.
- Australia Post is reportedly close to agreement with the Australian Postal and Telecommunications Union on a restructuring plan Australia Post that could eliminate 1500 jobs, close many post offices, introduce weekend and late night trading and expand commercial franchising of postal services. In return postal workers in the retail area (which will be most affected by the restructuring) are promised pay rises of up to 4%.
SYDNEY — Sydney Electricity has announced plans to cut 750 jobs, about 10% of its workforce. The cuts would mainly affect construction workers, mechanics and plumbers, who would be replaced by contractors. The company is promising lower power bills as a trade-off. It hopes the reduction will be achieved by voluntary redundancy. Most of the affected workers are members of the municipal employees and electrical trades unions.
- The NSW government has failed to attract serious bids for eight of nine coal mines it has targeted for privatisation. The mines, operated by Elcom to supply coal to state power stations, have been on the market since January. Six of the mines have contracts of nue supplying the electricity commission. The other two, Awaba and Newvale, near Newcastle, might be closed. Liddell in the upper Hunter region was the only one of the nine mines to be sold. It was knocked down for $6 million, leaving state taxpayers to pick up its debt of around $109 million.
WOLLONGONG — BHP steelworkers picketed the company's Port Kembla works last week over plans to employ contract labour on bathroom cleaning, ground work and crane maintenance. The picket was in defiance of a State Industrial Commission order. The ironworkers' union (FIMEE) warned the dispute could widen if there was any attempt to break the picket.